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Functional sophistication in human escape

Sporrer, JK; Brookes, J; Hall, S; Zabbah, S; Serratos Hernandez, UD; Bach, DR; (2023) Functional sophistication in human escape. iScience , 26 (11) , Article 108240. 10.1016/j.isci.2023.108240. Green open access

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Abstract

Animals including humans must cope with immediate threat and make rapid decisions to survive. Without much leeway for cognitive or motor errors, this poses a formidable computational problem. Utilizing fully immersive virtual reality with 13 natural threats, we examined escape decisions in N = 59 humans. We show that escape goals are dynamically updated according to environmental changes. The decision whether and when to escape depends on time-to-impact, threat identity and predicted trajectory, and stable personal characteristics. Its implementation appears to integrate secondary goals such as behavioral affordances. Perturbance experiments show that the underlying decision algorithm exhibits planning properties and can integrate novel actions. In contrast, rapid information-seeking and foraging-suppression are only partly devaluation-sensitive. Instead of being instinctive or hardwired stimulus-response patterns, human escape decisions integrate multiple variables in a flexible computational architecture. Taken together, we provide steps toward a computational model of how the human brain rapidly solves survival challenges.

Type: Article
Title: Functional sophistication in human escape
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.isci.2023.108240
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.isci.2023.108240
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © 2023 The Author(s). This is an open access article under the CC BY license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Keywords: Biological sciences, Neuroscience, Behavioral neuroscience, Computer science
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology > Imaging Neuroscience
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10181949
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